Pocono II: Pole winner qualifying interview

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS: TALK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING LAP: "It was a pretty comfortable lap. We made some good adjustments and used the throttle pedal. We got three good corners. I felt like turn two I really got through well,...

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS:

TALK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING LAP:

"It was a pretty comfortable lap. We made some good adjustments and used the throttle pedal. We got three good corners. I felt like turn two I really got through well, through the tunnel. I didn't do a bad job through turn three, but I was a little nervous coming off of three, I was like, 'I know that was good, but I don't know if it's going to be real good'. I thought Mark's (Martin) lap was real good. It ended up being enough and we got it."

TALK ABOUT REMOVING GEAR RESTRICTIONS AT POCONO:

"I don't think it would change what the fans saw. It makes it more exciting inside the car for us and a bigger challenge for the engine department to build engines that turn that type of RPM. We don't shift anymore. It's more fun in the car -- I enjoyed it more."

TALK ABOUT CHANGING YOUR TRANSMISSION DURING PRACTICE:

"We did, the mixer box where the shifter handle that I use inside the car, where it attaches to selected gears, we had something in there bound up to where I couldn't use first and second in practice. My guys would just push me off and I would put it in third gear. My spotter did a good job of getting me onto the track where I didn't have to stop at the end of pit road again. I don't think I would have gotten going at that point. It really didn't affect the performance of the car, it just made it a little frustrating and added some tension to the day. It is not a penalty if you change it before you qualify. I think we may have even used the same transmission, I wasn't there, but we knew the mixer box was the problem and it's not that we had a gear issue, it was the selector."

TALK ABOUT PREPARING TO DEFEND YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP:

"I feel that from maybe the Pocono race that we had in the spring or maybe even Michigan where we led the most laps, right in there we felt like we patched the holes up in the bottom of the ship and weren't taking on anymore water. We were actually bailing water and getting ahead. One thing that I'm very proud of this race team for and we've kind of learned this through experience and through years of racing is that we never want to be fat and happy. We never want to feel that we've got it and we can sit back and things will take care of itself. With six races before the 'Chase' even starts, there's a lot of time for guys to sort stuff out and we need to keep pushing forward and stay hungry and we need to operate like we're a top-five team and hopefully win. We need to stay hungry and that's one thing our team has done a great job at and I give that credit to Chad (Knaus). At times he's criticized by his guys for whipping them so hard, but there's a reason for it in his mindset and my mindset as well. We'll reflect on what we've accomplished at the end of the year, let's stay focused and stay hungry."

TALK ABOUT THE CONFIDENCE OF STARTING FROM THE POLE ON SUNDAY:

"Not really, it sounds good. It gives me maybe a little something to think of leaving here through the night and even as the race starts, I'm sure I'll hear it again on the radio or watching television. Once that green flag drops you just go into what your car is doing and what the competition is doing. When I look at Kasey Kahne's win -- yeah he started on the pole, but they had a problem on pit road and he had to go to the back and drive his way up through the field. You can pass here, you need a strong car and I think just because we're having some success here, Kasey (Kahne) kicked our butts here last year. He just flat wore us out. I will keep a close eye on him tomorrow and hopefully we will have pace with him."

TALK ABOUT PRACTICE IN QUALIFYING TRIM VERSUS RACE TRIM:

"It's tough to change between the set-ups and we just focused on the qualifying stuff."

TALK ABOUT THE CHICAGO RACE AS A DEFINING MOMENT:

"From my point of view, I think it was where the fans and the media and people outside the garage area recognized the 48 has made some progress. Just by general comments, a lot of people are like, 'wow, Chicago was a turning point.' I think in the garage area and amongst competitors and in our hearts, it was a month or a month and a half before that. I think Chicago really showed everyone that we weren't filling them full of BS and we were actually making some ground. One thing that Chicago did for me was that it pissed me off to lose. To sit there on a green-white-checker and lose the race like that, I'm still kicking myself for that. It just keeps me motivated I guess."

TALK ABOUT TRYING TO OUT RUN KYLE BUSCH HEADING INTO THE 'CHASE':

"I think experience is everything. Not saying that the 18 can't do it, the team, the driver, pit crew, crew chief, those guys are doing an awesome job and they have set a high mark this year. I am very, very impressed with all of them. It really just depends -- times are changing, people are catching them a little bit right now even though they are still winning. I feel like we've closed that gap and now it is what type of development work they are doing and how they can handle the pressure. All those questions just come along and that's just on the standard part of the season and then you add the 'Chase' to it and that complicates matters even more. It really just depends on how they handle it and I think that we as a team on the 48 car perform better under pressure and in those tough times. I hope we can do that again this year because it's going to be an intense one with a lot of competition. I think the 99 (Carl Edwards) has shown a lot of strength all season long and I have been very impressed with that team and what they have been doing. I think come 'Chase' time it's going to be a shootout."

TALK ABOUT ANY DRIVERS YOU ARE FRIGHTENED OF IN THE FIELD ON SUNDAY:

"I'm scared of myself, but it's not for those reasons. Sometimes the decisions I make -- I don't know. I like to be scared and I like to be worried about where we're at. Not having race practice today, I'm not really sure how to evaluate what we're going to do in the race. Qualifying we did our jobs, but the race here is so much different. For one lap here on this abrasive surface you want to use the tires as hard as you can and wear it out in the course of a lap and have maximum grip. Then when the race comes around, this track is so abrasive that you want the complete opposite. It's really about getting a good balance and using all four tires the same. We'll just have to see. I would say the 9 (Kasey Kahne), he had a big margin here and he could give back half of the advantage he had and still dominate the race. Hopefully we do our jobs and catch up."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards